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Traumatic Brain Injury - Behavioral Issues

A traumatic brain injury can change the way people feel or think causing behavioral changes as well as emotional difficulties.

Common behavior changes can include:

• Frustration

• Impulsivity

• Less effective social skills

• Impaired self-awareness

• Temper outburst and irritability

People suffering from a traumatic brain injury can suffer damage to the frontal lobe that regulates behavior and governs social control. This area of the brain suppresses emotional urges, sexual urges and outbursts acting as a social filter. Damage to this part of the brain causes the brain injured person to act unregulated allowing outbursts, impulsivity, lack of social control and lack of suppressing emotional urges.

Professional help for this type of conduct can be as follows:

• Speak with a physician or psychologist to outline treatment.

• Counselling for both the brain injured victim and his or her family to allow them to cope better on a daily basis.

• Medications can help improve or stabilize mood and can be prescribed by a physician.

Family members can also help by doing the following:

• Remain calm if an emotional outburst occurs.

• Take the person having the emotional outburst to a quiet area to help him or her calm down and regain control.

• Acknowledge how the person feels giving the person a chance to talk about it.

• Provide feedback and be supportive.

• Redirect the person's attention to a different topic or activity.

Another behavioral problem that can occur following a traumatic brain injury is anxiety. Anxiety is a feeling of fear or nervousness that is out of proportion to the situation. Some people may have sudden onset of anxiety that is overwhelming known as a panic attack.

Causes of anxiety following a traumatic brain injury:

• Difficulty reasoning and concentrating.

• Too many demands on the injured person.

• Stressful situations

What can be done about anxiety:

• Reduce demands and unnecessary stresses.

• Add structural activities to the daily routine.

• Use of medications and psychotherapy or counseling that can be obtained by a physician.

Another behavioral difficulty following a traumatic brain injury is depression. Depression can consist of feelings of sadness, frustration and loss.

Depression can be caused by:

• Adjusting to the disability of the traumatic brain injury.

• Damage to the area of the brain that controls emotions (frontal lobe).

What can be done about depression:

• Treatment from a physician that can consist of anti-depressant medication and recommendation of psychotherapy or counseling with a mental health professional.

• A strong program of aerobic exercise can also help reduce depression.

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